How to pull off the waistcoat

Expert advice on how to master the dangerous fashion statement that is the waistcoat.

February 18, 2015

Once an essential part of a man’s daily wear, the waistcoat is slowly coming back into fashion. Often shunned for the safer blazer option, the waistcoat remains one of the trickier, and most underused, items in a man’s wardrobe.

It’s lucky then, that the suave tailors at Knot Standard have given up a few pointers on how to master the look this season.

Formal rules
As an integral part of the formal three-piece suit ensemble, there are inevitably some steadfast rules that should be observed. For formal, the colour and fabric of the waistcoat should always match the jacket and trousers.

There are several variations on cut and style, but it is important to remember that some formal occasions have stricter rules. Black-tie events, for example, require a formal black waistcoat with lapels. Mark Wahlberg wearing a waistcoat.

Fit is king
As always with additional layers, over cut and sized material will make you look bigger than you are, and, with today’s leaning towards slim-lined silhouettes, that can be a very bad thing. The whole point of a waistcoat is to help you look more streamlined and tidy. Make sure your waistcoat lies flat against your body and the armholes are low enough so that it doesn’t pucker or rise up.

Casual option
Although traditionally associated with formality, waistcoats can be worn in a variety of casual and smart-casual ways. For a more dress-down look, feel free to play with colours, textures and layers, but always try to adhere to these five simple guidelines:

1. Waistcoats should always cover the waistband
2. Always leave the bottom button undone
3. A belt should never be worn with a waistcoat
4. Armholes should not be too high or snug
5. With the extra layer, a lighter cotton shirt is preferable

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